There will be an interplay of various factors in the Dubai property market after the April 16 rains. It will reshape the buying and renting of residential properties. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai has done a remarkable job of bouncing back from the storms that briefly brought the city to a halt a couple of weeks ago. But many residents are still reeling from its after-effects.

I think the number one thing on everyone’s mind is preparation. There was no way to predict an event like the one that took place – this is, after all, the city of year-round sunshine. Looking back, we can find some important lessons to keep in mind for the future. What are some of the lessons learned, and how can residents move forward with a greater sense of security and peace of mind should they have to deal with the unexpected again?

Perception will drive interest

One of Dubai’s greatest strengths is how it has changed its perception on the global stage. A city once known only for trade and vacation spots is now seen as one of the preferred destinations to live and work in. During Covid, the government helped to cement Dubai’s perception as a safe haven.

After the April 16 deluge, the government once again sprang into action to clear the water out of major roads and get the city back to a state of relative normalcy within 48 hours. Some of the city’s most noted developers, such as Emaar and Nakheel, took the initiative to announce that they would cover the cost of repairs and waterproofing on their properties.

All of this has added to the perception of Dubai as a city that knows how to solve problems efficiently. Those developers who stepped up at this time are also regarded in a better light, and investors will have more confidence in the security of those projects.

Take care of things that matter

In the UK, most people get insurance without a second thought. Home and car insurance are a must, as is contents insurance, which can help cover everything from your furniture and appliances to artwork and jewellery. There are several reasons for this, of course.

There are more frequent spells of bad weather in the UK – water damage can become a common problem. There are also higher rates of crime, so people insure their belongings against the possibility of theft.

In the UAE, these are considerations that don’t really need to be made. Contents insurance is a distant thought for many due to the high levels of personal safety in the country, and some of the landlords and homeowners I’ve spoken to didn’t even know that was an option. However, I think insurance will be a huge consideration for all homeowners in the months to come.

Tenants are on the move

The storm has put several areas of the city in the spotlight, and unfortunately not in a good way. Tenants who may have faced issues on an individual property level, whether that’s flood damage or traffic delays due to maintenance and drainage works in the surrounding area, are looking to exit their contracts early. Contracts that are set to expire in June or July are being terminated now as tenants look towards communities that managed the storm better.

I’m anticipating higher rental activity than usual over the next few months with increased lead flow from tenants and a bit of stock freeing up.

Homes will come under the microscope

There is one question that every landlord can expect to hear right now and it’s one that’s been posed at many of my recent viewings – “How bad was the damage?”

Tenants – and buyers too, I’m sure – are looking very closely at the properties they’re interested in and assessing the minutest details. Waterproofing is now a critical point that could make or break a deal. But even more than that, they are looking at how the community as a whole is equipped to deal with weather events. All of the landlords I’m working with understand this and are getting their homes waterproofed to get ahead of tenant concerns.

The flip side of enhanced weatherproofing is, of course, that there will be additional costs that landlords will try to recoup with the rental price. It only seems fair that added value will be worth additional rent, but how that works out will depend purely on market dynamics and how much tenants are willing to push their budgets.

I think that master-planned communities will benefit in the long run as developers can implement a complete weatherproofing strategy, which will make those communities more desirable for buyers and tenants.

Even the areas that have suffered this time around could, in 6- to 12 months turn things around with better infrastructure planning and once again become top choices for residents.

Perhaps the most significant lesson anyone can learn from this is that no matter how secure you may feel, it’s always a good idea to have a plan for the unexpected.